Letters to editor - Sandy Hook massacre: Dec. 23

December 23, 2012 

Connecticut School Shooting

Wooden angels were displayed Thursday as part of a memorial to shooting victims in Newtown, Conn. Adam Lanza, 20, walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself.


Shooter grew up in era of violence and violent games

The 20-year-old who created carnage in Sandy Hook was born the same year Mortal Kombat hit markets. He would have been seven when he saw the carnage of Columbine meticulously detailed in the media.

Grand Theft Auto 3 hit the market in 2001 when the Sandy Hook shooter would have been nine.

Children form identity between eight-and 13-years-old. This child was reportedly a loner and had issues with social skills. He came of age when the media was saturated with violence.

In 2001, as the Twin Towers fell, the news outlets shamelessly showed footage of people jumping from the towers in the interest of ratings. This nine-year old lived in the shadows of New York, and did not have the acumen to process the disaster, nor the sophistication, due to his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome, to express his sorrow or fear.

In 2007, when the Virginia Tech massacre occurred, the perpetrator was 12. Since 2006, there rarely has been a year without three mass shootings. This year there have been seven.

Unless we change how we portray violence, in 12 years — as the six-year-olds who experienced Sandy Hook turn 20 — we will see another uptick in mass violence.

When kids between six and 14 are exposed to persistent, routine, and graphic violence, those who are fringe personalities will resort to violence themselves.

We need to save graphic details and imagery until after 10 o'clock at night, and increase restrictions on violence in entertainment.

Gun control is not enough,

Susan McLaughlin-Jones

mother of an autistic son


Praise can destroy, too

Sunday on Meet the Press, New York Times columnist David Brooks offered a possible clue as to why boys become school shooters. He said that shooters have an exaggerated sense of themselves and can't accept it when the world sees them as ordinary.

He intimated that school shooters feel compelled to do something to gain the recognition they believe they deserve. A school shooting serves that purpose.

Brooks' description fits the second grader (I'll call him Adam) that I worked with eight years ago. Adam was referred to me because he had daily violent outburst in class. Adam believed he deserved his teacher's attention — all of it.

Consequently, when she recognized other children Adam reacted violently. After a number of these violent outbursts, Adam was suspended from school.

However, his mother refused to tell him he had been suspended. "It wouldn't be good for his self-esteem," she said.

After working with the mother on a behavioral contract for Adam, I asked him to sign it. When Adam printed the first letter of his name his mother gushed "Very good, Adam." When he wrote the second letter, mommy crowed, "Awesome!"

In that short session, I discovered that Adam's loving mother was also his destroyer. Her tools of destruction were unrelenting praise for his ordinary skills and a denial of his weaknesses.

I left the school, and I don't know if Adam got the help he needed. If not he's out there now, and he has access to guns.

Sue Mize

certified school counselor


Need mental health care

It is not the gun, but the person holding it who is responsible for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Though gun laws can make it more difficult for the mentally disturbed to lay hands on a deadly weapon, laws can never fully prevent someone with the drive to kill from finding what they need to fulfill that desire.

Thus, to most effectively minimize the danger, action must be taken to recognize and help those struggling with mental illness.

While there are abundant awareness campaigns and significant funding for the treatment and research of physical diseases, mental health rarely receives the attention it deserves.

It is not always obvious when someone is experiencing mental illness. Physicians do not always take time to assess patients' mental well-being, despite the fact that mental illness can do just as much or more damage than a physical injury or disease.

Just as cancer, diabetes and broken bones can devastate the body, depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness can lead individuals to harm or kill themselves or others.

Our society, as well as our health care system, needs to change. Mental health deserves the same attention and to be viewed as equally important as physical health.

A new kind of preventive care must be instated — one that not only prevents harm to patients themselves, but to the innocent people whose lives they touch.

Hayley Cunningham


What is going on today?

As I listen to the stories on the news about the deaths of the 26 children and adults killed in what should have been the safety of school, I ask myself what is going on in the minds of our young people today.

Why so many mentally disturbed young people? This was not the case when I was young, 65 years ago. There was poverty, joblessness, but always hope.

Parents don't seem to care like they used to. Teachers are not allowed to discipline children. God is gone from homes and schools. Children spend hours staring at violence in computer games and TV until they become desensitized to the most dreadful violence.

I wonder where all these behavioral problems begin, like ADHD so many kids seem to have. Does it have something to do with all the chemicals and preservatives we are forced to unknowingly ingest in our food, or the inoculations our children are having for everything but snoring?

There also is such a lack of consequences for bad behaviors it's verging on the irreversible. In another 50 years, no one will be safe from the rising generation and, God forbid, their children. Something is wrong and it needs to be put right for all our sakes. It's the responsibility of all of us, and the killing of these beautiful children is the last straw.

It's not the guns; it's what these mentally unstable people are doing with them. Someone out there must have some ideas.

Vivienne Skidmore


Safer outside the U.S.

I am thankful my five-year-old granddaughter lives in a foreign country where some reasonable limits on the ownership and use of guns are established.

Her dad and mother will not have to experience the grief, frustration, anger and helplessness that families in Newton, Conn., are experiencing.

These tiny sacrifices are but the latest of the harvest of gun violence regularly perpetrated on our county. This tragedy, and other recent explosions of insanity, are due to the lack of any control on the ownership and use of guns — no matter how deadly, how efficient or how well they are designed to kill.

How many of these explosions will the United States experience before some limit of revulsion is reached? Is it now, or will even more citizens perish on the holy grail of a gross misrepresentation of the Second Amendment?

The Connecticut governor said evil visited New England. This misrepresents what happened. A human, in his most evil and disturbed condition, visited Newtown. This visitation was supported by extreme advocates of gun ownership and use with no rational control or limit. Further, it required a government that has accepted this insanity as the status quo.

Advocates for gun ownership and use without limits are among the very strongest political forces in this country. Nothing will change until the average citizen convinces the government that the current situation is not acceptable. The smallest and most vulnerable of our citizens demand some real control on gun ownership and use.

John Thompson


Did Jesus have a Glock?

Will the collective consciences of our nation dare to forget the Christmas of 2012 when the children of Newtown, Conn., received visits from the undertaker instead of Santa Claus?

Was there an AK assault rifle or a Glock tucked under the straw in the manger of the baby Jesus by his parents?

Did Jesus carry an assault rife while he hunted down the spiritual souls of people, preaching love and forgiveness? When Jesus was crucified, did the piece of paper nailed to his cross of sins say NRA? Of course not.

We all know the hymn, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord." We are all there when unbalanced individuals have military weapons to murder and blast open the hearts of all of us in continual senseless slaughter because they are given the unholy right to do it.

Every politician who has taken one dollar from the NRA, is there. They stand as we all do as witnesses. But as politicians, they are in the front row and they should be made to walk through the carnage and bear witness to their own cowardly shame.

Judy Rembacki


No single solution

Mass murders are a multi-pronged problem, therefore there is no single solution. I propose the following:

• Ban the sale of all assault weapons and ammunition magazines for them except to the military and law-enforcement agencies.

• Impose a 30-day waiting period for the purchase of a gun.

• Do something about the availability and affordability of mental health services to those in need of them.

• Improve security in our schools, universities, malls, movie theaters and other public places that can become targets.

For schools, all exterior doors should be bullet-proof. Administrative office doors and windows should be bullet-proof, as should classroom doors and windows that are near exterior doors.

Public-address systems should be installed. Administrators, teachers and staff should be given more security and shooter response training. Every classroom should have a phone and a lock on the door. Interior doors should open to the outside so a shooter cannot break the doors open.

When people are buzzed in at school entrance doors, they need to show a photo ID to the camera and state their purpose for being there.

• Ban the production and sale of violent video games and movies.

How much of our tax dollar is wasted that could be used to protect our children and other innocent people? When will lawmakers do something rather than just sit and argue about possible solutions?

M. Claire Sale


Religious should lead

I am not opposed to gun ownership, I own guns. But I have been attempting to work with Bishop Ronald Gainer, of the Diocese of Lexington, since early August to get him and his fellow bishops to address the issue of gun violence, specifically assault weapons.

Ironically, I demonstrated in front of the diocese offices last Thursday in an attempt to prompt action by Gainer. I returned there on Friday after the Connecticut massacre. Afterward, the bishop agreed to meet with me to discuss how the Catholic church can address this problem.

It is my fervent hope that I can convince the bishops to speak with one voice in urging our lawmakers to take action. I would also ask that all religious leaders in our city, state and nation — be they Muslim, Jew, or Christian — come together with one voice to move this issue to the forefront.

Our religious leaders have the power to demonstrate to our elected leaders the desire of the majority of people that something positive be done to attempt to keep similar tragedies from occurring again.

No law will stop all violence. But the time has come for us to do what we can to ensure our children, and indeed all citizens, are safe.

Urge your religious leader to get involved. If we work as one, we can make a difference.

Chuck Mallory


Carnage of gun rights

I am appalled by the recent carnage against our fellow citizens with the use of unregulated assault rifles. The right to bear arms, as established by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, assured the rights of citizens to defend their homes and allow for hunting, both important concerns at the time.

While these concerns may still have relevance, our rights as citizens to be protected from lunatics armed with these weapons is more important.

Any logical discussion must include dialogue with respect to sane gun control policy. Other civilized countries, such as Great Britain and Australia, have tackled this problem with success, and experience virtually no gun homicide today.

This is compared to the unbelievable carnage that is allowed to exist in this country under the guise of gun rights, and successful lobbying efforts by groups such as the National Rifle Association.

It is unconscionable that we continue to hide behind the Second Amendment and refuse to do what needs to be done, and I am furious that lawmakers won't take a stand on this issue.

Legislation to ban all assault rifles and the accompanying high-capacity clips that enable mass slaughter, and closing the gun-show loophole that continues to allow the unregulated sale of these weapons, must be our top priority. Or we must explain to the parents of Newtown — who have only grief in their lives from now on — why we should continue a policy allowing possession of assault weapons.

Scott Schumacher


Wisdom from Hitler

In response to the wave of anti-gun rhetoric given the atrocities plaguing the American public, I would like to point to a statement made in 1933: "To conquer a nation, one must first disarm its citizens." — Adolf Hitler.

Zach Atkins


Fear guns? Get a gun

Fear is often cited as a reason to own a gun. Ironically, what these gun owners are afraid of is people with guns.

Tragically, this paranoia makes us all less safe and, as Adam Lanza's horrible rampage in Connecticut has demonstrated, innocent children are especially vulnerable.

After every mass shooting, we think that surely this is enough and measures will be taken to protect the public from such heart-breaking events.

Time after time, though, the gun lobby persuades the legislators it seems to own that still more guns are the solution, and even the mildest controls are thwarted.

So, what can we do? As citizens in a representative democracy, our power is in the ballot box. Single- issue voting has been a common practice for gun lobbyists.

Now seems to be a time for us to adopt that strategy, and vow to never ever vote for any candidate who supports the National Rifle Association.

Donald E. Sands


Try telling parents

I suggest the National Rifle Association meet with the bereaved parents whose children were shot at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and explain to them why gun control is not needed in this country.

Vernon R. Wiehe


One victim speaks

I am a victim of gun violence; my father was killed in a petty robbery in Louisville outside Churchill Downs. The loss by the families and friends of the Connecticut kids and adults, killed by the young man, will be hard for a long time.

I also hope the nation forgives the mentally ill perpetrator as hate is a horrible human condition.

Don Pratt


Jesus the best caregiver

As I watched the news unfold in Newtown, Conn., I saw the valiant policemen arrive within minutes, rifles and handguns in hand, but not in time to make a difference.

Whether five minutes, three minutes, or one minute too late, still not on time.

Then I thought of someone else, armed with wooden sword, who came not five minutes, three minutes, or one minute ago, but 2000 years ago. Yet, he was on time.

His name was Jesus, and his sword, a giant wooden cross plunged into a place called Golgotha, meaning skull, a place of death. There He defeated sin, Satan and death. Jesus is the "resurrection and the life," and in our hope in him we will not be disappointed.

Twenty children are now in the hands of the best child-care provider there is, in the best child-care facility there is, and they will have a wonderful Christmas where they are, because that babe in a manger, 2000 years ago was on time.

Bill Blackburn


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